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Rhonda Montgomery

Rhonda Montgomery Director and Principal Trainer

Be Inspired Series

Carmel O'Connor

Head of corporate responsibility for BT in Ireland

After university worked in the PR team at Diageo for six years before moving to BT to take up the post of media relations manage

What is your career background?

After university I worked in the PR team at Diageo for six years. I then moved to BT to take up the post of media relations manager. My role now is to lead BT's corporate responsibility programme across the island of Ireland.

How long have you been in your current position?

Nine years.

What does a typical working day involve?

No two days are the same, and working as part of a wider team is always very busy! 
BT is very serious when it comes to investing significantly back into the local communities we operate in so I can be anywhere from Belfast, to Limerick, Derry or Dublin meeting with charity and community partners.

My role usually means working across a number of programmes at any one time, from environment and climate change programmes to education and skills initiatives or managing the many BT employee volunteers we have involved in our events and programmes.

What are your main responsibilities?

My role is very much focused on helping to maintain BT's corporate reputation in Ireland. It is my responsibility to continually develop, implement and lead on the company's corporate responsibility (CR) strategy and at the same time raise awareness of BT's credentials as a leader in this field.

I work closely with a range of charity and voluntary organisations to help achieve this. BT plays a very active role in the community and many of our people contribute so generously in supporting the company's corporate responsibility programmes through a wide range of great volunteering opportunities.

Part of my job is also to promote BT’s CR strategy whether that’s internally to our own people, or externally to our customers, through media, online and via our marketing channels.  I also manage and deliver BT’s support for UK wide initiatives such as the telethon appeals, climate change and a wide range of education programmes. 

What project are you working on now?

We have recently launched an all-island programme aimed at supporting a number of grass roots community organisations in Belfast, Derry, Dublin and Limerick. 

The BT Connected Communities programme helps a wide range of people including the unemployed and our young people develop essential ICT skills for work. It provides older people with the skills and resources needed to keep in touch with family and friends, reducing any feelings of isolation and provides a means to ensure as many as possible are not excluded from using the latest in technology.

What are the main skills you need for your job?

As well as good communication skills an appreciation of the voluntary sector is essential, as is the ability to see the potential for great projects and partnerships on lots of different levels.  Innovative thinking is a must, vision and the view that anything and everything is possible. A genuine desire to help others is paramount and overall, patience and perseverance always win. 

Have you had to upskill in any area since taking on your current position?

Yes, BT is very supportive in the area of personal training and development.  I have recently refreshed my project management skills as the BT Connected Communities programme means managing a huge number of BT volunteers, making sure they are all fully briefed, where they’re supposed to be, and at the right time!

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

I get quite a few requests to support a wide variety of fantastic causes and appeals, and although we’d love to support them all we just can’t. So finding other ways to help as many as possible perhaps through in-kind support can be a challenge.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?

BT tries to support as many things as possible and invests a considerable amount both as cash funding and time every year. We don’t seek recognition for that but knowing the charities and groups we work with get a lot back from our programmes is great and our people have great pride in our community programmes which is very rewarding.

What aspect of your job would you most like to see progress over the next 12 months?

I'm working to extend the BT Connected Communities programme into some of the more rural communities in Northern Ireland so I’m looking forward to getting that up and running and to working with a whole new range of community groups and new challenges.

What advice would you give to someone wishing to pursue a similar career?

Be prepared to work very hard, get plenty of experience in the communications industry, have a solid understanding and appreciation of corporate responsibility and the contribution it makes to all areas of a business and our community.

What do you enjoy doing outside work?

I have three young children so any spare time is gladly spent with them.

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